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Today in medicine: Is salt bad for you this week?

News from the medicine world.

Topic of Study: Mini-strokes shorten lifespan

Study subjects: 22,157 Australian adults hospitalized with a mini-stroke

Location of study: Australia

Results: Non-fatal mini strokes, which are tiny lapses in blood flow to the brain, can shorten lifespan. Nine years of study revealed that those who suffered a mini-stroke were 20 percent more likely to die than the general population.

Significance: About 200,000 to 500,000 Americans a year suffer from mini-strokes, also known as ransient ischemic attacks (TIAs).

Topic of Study: Salt or no salt?

Study subjects: 167 previously conducted low-sodium diet studies

Location of study: Denmark

Results: Low-sodium diets have been advised for conditions like hypertension and heart disease, but new research indicates that cutting back on salt can increase cholesterol, fat and hormones in one's blood.

Significance: Confused? As with most diets, moderation is the best path to follow.

Topic of Study: Women who attend church are happier

Study subjects: 92,539 post-menopausal women over 50

Location of study: U.S.

Results: The latest reports from the Journal of Religion and Health says women who attend services frequently are 56 percent more likely to be optimistic and 27 percent less likely to be depressed.

Significance: The results could be attributed to feeling part of a community and less disconnected. Individual support from priests or rabbis also seems a contributing factor.

Topic of Study: EEG detects minimal brain function

Study subjects: Sixteen patients with either traumatic or nontraumatic brain injury

Location of study: Canada

Results: A report in The Lancet claims electroencephalography (EEG) can help doctors recognize brain function and awareness in patients deemed to be in a vegetative state. EEG monitoring found signs of functioning in three out of 16 patients otherwise meeting clinical definition of a vegetative state.

Significance: Researchers hope to use this data to better care for patients with brain trauma, including those in a coma.

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